A week or so ago, I got to work a little early. It had been a cool, clear night following the passage of a dry cold front, and as I reached the county road that leads to the school, day shadows had begun retreating eastward. The far horizon had a lingering band of purple tint, and a few high ice clouds well up in the air turned pink gold. Earth shadows still stretched across the ground, but they withdrew as I watched, slowly, until only the playa bottom remained in shadow as the ground turned faintly pink and gold, then shifted to the usual winter tan and brown.
The evening promised to be spectacular, so I got work done early and went walking. The trees are just at their peak, and the slant light caught their colors, making them glow as if lit by inner fire. The Bradford pear trees are shading into crimson. The hawthorns have already lost their orange leaves and only the brilliant red-orange berries remain (although not for much longer once the robins arrive en masse). Cottonwood trees retain a few yellow-gold leaves and the oaks are a purple-red, all of them caught by the slanting gold light of the evening and shining with translucent fire.
Then the ice clouds began shifting, white to gold to pink and purple. Sunset quickly filled the entire arch of the sky, sprawling east to west in a pastel arc over the glowing trees. I meandered out to the edge of some fields and watched the soft light spreading eastwards, blue and deep purple creeping over the knee-high clumps of grass, darkening the soft fur of fall.
By the time the first stars appeared, shadow covered the world once more and the gold and red trees darkened to smokeless embers. Faint whiffs of burning pine and other woods tickled my nose as I walked back home. Fireplace season has arrived.
Now, after a night of tornadoes, snow blows and the earth’s fur waves, ruffled by the north wind’s hand. Grey clouds rush to the southeast, chased across the plains and dragging wisps of stinging ice feathers.
Autumn is here.